Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/01/26

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Subject: [Leica] Gene Smith lost and found
From: passaro.vince at (Vince Passaro)
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 02:22:35 -0500


The "W. Eugene Smith Photographs 1934-1975" about which you ask is the most
comprehensive book I know of, large and heavy and very well printed (I'd
rate it 'coffee table ++' in the KEH rating system...).  Abrams is the
publisher; the two guys who put it together are Gilles Morra and someone
else whose name escapes me now, but you'll find it. You'll have to buy it
used as it's out of print.

Meanwhile, Dream Street, which you have, is a book one could get lost in for
years, trying to come to grips with Smith's vision. He was hired to take a
dozen pictures and stay a week. He stayed over two years and no one to speak
of ever bought any of the photos. I think it's his best work.

The Jazz Loft Project is fascinating; it's the excuse for the Harper's
piece. He would sit in the windows of the loft for hours and hours and even
sometimes days, playing speed against alcohol and taking pictures of the
street -- one every twenty minutes or every hour even: just one shot. The
results are amazing. The stuff of the musicians is also great. Plus he wired
the whole building for sound and made four thousand hours of tape. The book
has some representative transcripts.

Finally, there's a book called "Let Truth Be the Prejudice" that has a very
well written (though in a few spots factually imperfect) 'illustrated bio'
to accompany the very good selection of pictures, as well as a few other
really good essays.

Salgado, I think, is the closest thing we have now to Smith, but Salgado is
manifestly saner and much, much, much better funded.  He has a large vision
obviously, but Smith had an almost miraculous ability to get right up into
reality's face, inches away, regardless of the conditions. Salgado is daring
and brave, but Smith was suicidal.


Replies: Reply from richard.lists at (Richard Man) ([Leica] Gene Smith lost and found)
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